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Puan, world's oldest Sumatran orangutan, dies at 62

Puan, world's oldest orangutan, dead at 62 Puan, the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the world, has died at the Perth Zoo in Australia, officials said. She was 62.

The female orangutan was euthanized due to what veterinarians said were age-related complications affecting her quality of life, Perth Zoo said in a statement Tuesday.

Holly Thompson, a primate supervisor at the zoo, said it was difficult to end Puan's life on Monday, but noted it was the right and respectful choice.

"She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species, so I am very proud of the level of care given to Puan throughout her years, but importantly in her final days," Thompson said.

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Stephen Hawking's ashes buried, words beamed into black hole in space

Stephen HawkingMore than 1,000 people gathered for a memorial service Friday in London for theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking whose ashes were buried alongside Britain's greatest scientists at Westminster Abbey and whose recorded voice was being beamed into space to the nearest black hole.

The service, which also drew members of the public selected by ballot, included readings by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC drama, and British astronaut Tim Peake.

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Listen to the Sounds of Narwhals That Have Been Elusive to Science

Narwhals sounds that have been elusive to scientists

You’d think that narwhals couldn’t be more enchanting. These elusive, ice-dodging, deep-diving whales have 10-foot snaggletoothed tusks, and they see with sound.

But then there’s the narwhal of east Greenland. It’s kind of the narwhal of narwhals.

“Because they’re so hard to access, we honestly hardly knew anything,” said Susanna Blackwell, who studies the effects of human sounds on marine mammals for Greeneridge Sciences. “It’s an animal that’s been hidden from civilization for an awful long time.”

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NASA Curiosity rover unearths building blocks in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars

NASA discovers building blocks on  Mars

Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process.  However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,"  said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface.

The material was discovered by the Mars Curiosity rover, which has been collecting data on the Red Planet since August 2012. The organic molecules were found in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida's Lake Okeechobee.

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Astronauts in Russian capsule land safely with World Cup football after 168-day mission to ISS

Asstronauts from ISS return with World Cup ballThree astronauts from the United States, Russia and Japan safely landed in Kazakhstan following a 168-day mission to the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anton Shkaplerov of Russia's Roscosmos space program, parachuted into the remote town of Dzhezkazgan  at at 6:39 p.m. local time (8:39 a.m. EDT) Sunday. All three men were safely removed from the capsule within 30 minutes.

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NASA launches InSight lander toward Mars

NASA launches InSight lander toward MarsIn a first for the West Coast, an Atlas 5 rocket boosted a robotic Mars lander into space Saturday, the first step in a six-and-a-half month voyage to the red planet for a two-year, $1 billion mission to monitor marsquakes, probe the temperature of the core and map the planet's hidden interior.

With heavy fog blanketing Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5's first stage engine thundered to life at 4:05 a.m. PT (GMT-7; 7:05 a.m. ET), throttled up to full thrust and quickly pushed the 20-story-tall booster away from pad 3-East atop 860,000 pounds of thrust.

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NASA Mars Mission Faces Setback After Heat Shield Cracks Under Pressure

NASA setback: heat shield on Mars probe cracks

A critical part of NASA's next $2 billion rover mission to Mars broke during testing earlier this month.

The Mars 2020 mission's heat shield was undergoing stress-testing when it developed a crack that appeared around its entire circumference. The shield is designed to protect the rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

"The test was designed to subject the heat shield to forces up to 20 percent greater than those expected during entry into the Martian atmosphere," NASA said in a statement. The crack was "unexpected" according to the release, and engineers will have to build a new shield for the mission.

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